Coldforged: A Brief History of Tysis Part 4 – The Republic of Killbar

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Each Thursday this year, I focus on a different aspect of the world I’ve created and played D&D in for over 20 years, in the hopes of honing the ideas and cementing enough in place to settle the world in my own mind. This week I’m looking to start fleshing out the history of the continent. This time, its the history of the Republic of Killbar

The History of Killbar

Killbar’s history stretches back before the Sundering. There are conflicting versions of events recorded in different chronicles, many of which are of dubious origins. No one truly knows history, but those ideas that are, for the majority, agreed to are presented here.

Killbar, as a kingdom, begins its existence around 122 AC, but its fundamental roots are much stronger, to about 157 AT, when an order of esoteric mage warriors was formed, together with their guards and priests, were created to protect the tomb of Luther Purelife from a prophesied defilement. A small, magical knighthood which, in their native language, was the Kilrotes a Bardras; The Knights of the Grave.

Over the decades, they gathered around them all the accouterments of a normal life. An Inn was built, the Wayward Fool which was the oldest building in Killbar until it was razed in 636 AR, for visitors, a church for worship, a training yard for the warriors. The town continued to grow over generations, centered around The powerful Magus Supreme of the Knights of the Grave. It was this small town ruled by mages that existed when the Demon Queen sundered the world. Where the town had once stood at a crossroad, where the forest met a wide-open country, now the great ocean swallowed up the open country, while the forest was rent asunder by Undine Bay. The ocean now lapped at the walls of the city, which in turn embraced its maritime circumstances, and Killbar sat on the coast of an extensive peninsula.

While the Killbarans were the only organized people in their region of Tysis after the Sundering, there were numerous bands of survivors who formed into groups of bandits and created small, violent fiefdoms surrounding Killbar. Though the early council attempted to broker peace with these incorrigible kingdoms, each negotiation inevitably broke down, and the Killbaran legions were sent in to pacify and control the region. For the security of the Killbaran people, of course.

As these conquests began, the various mages of the Knights of the Grave began to disagree on interpretation and implementation of their mission, as well as how to govern individuals under their care. inevitably, the order fragmented, starting with the College of Truth Keepers. This rebel sect of mages demanded representation in decisions, and a council was formed to placate them. Each College had two representatives, elected from within their respective college, to keep the peace between the two orders. This singular event leads to a continual erosion of unity and the creation of dozens of independent colleges across Killbar. They quickly gained power and credibility while simultaneously pushing the Knights of the Grave into obscurity, replacing their vaunted leadership with the power of the Senate of Mages.

Following the proclamation of the Senate and the creation of the Republic came the call for the creation of a standing army. Though the Killbarans had fought many battles in their years, it was always under the Knights of the Graves command. Without their steady knowledge of warfare to lead the armies, the Killbarans were worried that they would fail. Alimarius, one of the Knights of the Grave, found his calling and broke from his College to found the Citadel of War. There he trained his disciples in combat, both arcane and physical, as well as leadership and logistics. Following his reforms to the way the military was run, Killbar fought a series of supposedly defensive wars against some of their more aggressive neighbors. The first of many campaigns during the Pacification Wars, was against the Huramath, with the stated goal as the Unification of the Imerian Peninsula. Once that was secured, their ambitions grew progressively larger. Each new conquest brought with it a larger territory to rule and new cultures and civilizations to absorb. It took many campaigns and multiple wars, but the vast majority of the western coast of the continent was controlled by Killbar and the Senate by 185 AC. The Killbaran Senate ruled a republic of numerous cities and subordinate towns encircling Undine bay and up the Imerian Peninsula. What they sent in effect would last for more than 600 years.

Killbar, Unhappy with ruling just a portion of the coast, quickly came into conflict with its neighbors the Occurians, Eshkin, and Alora, as well as the fledgling Tyndarians as they expanded eastward. Killbar repeatedly emerged victorious, though it sometimes took centuries and multiple setbacks to achieve their goals. Alora and Eshkin both fell, with portions of their Kingdoms being annexed by both Killbar and Tyrndall. Throughout the late stages of the 3rd Age, Killbar and Tyrndall fought each other repeatedly, giving rise to the marches between the two being peppered with towns reflecting both Killbaran, Tyndarian, and mixed heritages.

Recent History

The Brakengate war, once again against Tyrndall, pushed Killbar back on their southern border further than it had been in a hundred years. The Tyndarian Heavy Cavalry had devastated the Killbaran Phalanxes like never before, had just resolved when Moduru showed up on Tysis, ushering in the fourth age.

Modurus main plan to eliminate Killbar was the Mind Plague. He sent his protege Kuthru to initiate the ritual, which would eat into the sanity of arcanists exposed to it. No individual alive knows much about its origins, but its effects were indisputable. The mages of Killbar went slowly and irrevocably insane. It was a cruel and powerful disease that seemed to increase in strength proportionate to the arcane might of the victim. Many powerful leaders of the country were driven insane within a relatively short period of time.

This mass insanity leads to the rise of the General, a dictator that took power in Killbar City first and spread brutally throughout the Republic. Arcanists of all types were put to the sword without trial, slain in the beds, out for a walk, or eating supper. His orders had been simple: Take no chances. Once he had cemented his power and had control of the Empire, he declared that they would go to war against Tyndaria alongside the hordes of Moduru. None were brave enough to challenge him.

Fortunately for everyone involved, there were few battles between Killbarans and the Tyndarians during Moduru’s war, as the General arrived too late to change the course of the war. Moduru was slain, ending the war only months after the Killbarans joined.

Having been stymied by the victory of Tyndarian forces, the General retreated and focused his ire elsewhere, starting with the Kingdom of Jeslith. He invaded and razed the traditionally secluded kingdom, put as many of the citizens to the sword as he could find. He then set his eyes north, to Levisha, and attempted to conquer Elvish lands. Thankfully Moduru’s Second War stopped him.

It was during this war that the General was killed, and the city of Killbar besieged, conquered, razed and salted. Nothing is now left of what was once a thousand-year-old city. Modurus armies held sway over the land for a few years, but once they were defeated again, Killbar was freed from both tyrannies.

Sadly no single person emerged strong enough to unite the fractured Killbarans, Now, 25 years after the razing of Killbar, it is a country no longer. Referred to as the Killbaran Territories, it is instead a violent land of city-states, each ruled by a leader strong enough to hold it through trade, warfare or deception. Some small alliances are made from time to time by an over-powerful leader, but they quickly fall apart once the goal is accomplished. The land between the cities is rife with bandits, and those few strong souls who traverse the land are constantly accosted by others seeking to end their lives and plunder their belongings.

Current Events

While many feel that Killbar is an overripe corpse for the picking, Archmagus Numer M’Aurosus is not one of them. Spending time exiled in Hilea and other Tyndarian cities, he returned and took control of the city of Ostinium, re-implemented the Senate of Mages and returned to the rule of colleges and Magi. Not everyone is thrilled with the return of the old ways, but Numer is a mighty Wizard with strong backing among the mages he has allied himself with as well as the magistrates of the town. He is deeply committed to resurrecting Killbar, and has sent out a call to gather any like-minded individuals to either come to Ostinium themselves, to send emissaries from their towns to form alliances, or to rise up and throw off the yoke of their captors. The Mind Plague, to him, is a thing of the past, shackles holding back the future which he will provide.

In the south Numer strives to return to the old ways, to revitalize the Empire as it stood. To the north, however, a new force has emerged with very different feelings. The Modresto have, after a millennium of exile, returned to this world, bringing with them strife, war, and worship of the Accursed. Though their old enemies the Saldi are no longer around, and their chief god and patron Gromulus has been forever slain, this civilization straddles former Killbaran, Levishan, and Tyndarian territories, threatening each of them with warfare and destruction. Though it has only been a scant few years since they emerged, they have already proven their prowess on the field of battle. While they were defeated at Parminium, They emerged victorious against the Tyndarians at the Battle of the Lakes, and again against the forces of three Killbaran warlords at the Battle of Gesaria.

These are the challenges of Nova Killbarum. Warlords that resist a return to the old ways, new enemies appearing in the north, and the constant tension with the Tyndarians to the east. Though the Tyndarians aren’t looking so solid themselves, these days, and where once the United Killbarans faced a single, dauntless enemy, today they face the 10 Kingdoms of Tyrndall, itself a far cry from their own glory days.